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Sugar and Sawdust

CHAPTER ONE

Jorje stirred from somewhere under the muddled, muffled mass of duvet, trying to fight his way to the top of the bed before his phone stopped ringing. He made it. It stopped.

"Crap."

As he lay there, puffing his bottom lip out to try and clear the sweaty strands of hair from his face, he realised three things. Number one: he had a massive hangover, which meant he'd also been massively drunk the night before. Number two: this wasn't his bed. It wasn't even his bedroom, or his apartment. Number three...

The blonde head approximately six inches to his right emitted a low grumble, something between a snore and a groan. In the distance, Jorje's phone started up again. Slowly, carefully, he turned on his side and sat on the edge of the bed, squinting and locating the painfully bright glow of the phone screen across the room. The ringing stopped. The screen dimmed once more. Hesitantly, he pulled the duvet away, amazed and relieved to find that he was still wearing his Cavalli briefs. He rose to his feet and peered under the duvet—blonde dude was still in his underwear too. Well, that was both good and bad. Good, because he had yet to remember anything about the night before. Bad, because it didn't look like it was worth remembering, and that, at least, would have made up for feeling like death warmed up.

So. No idea where he was. Not a clue how he got there. Absolutely no memory of the dude in the bed. In fact, the last thing he could remember was being at Bella's night club with Ben and the gang, dropping shots like they were going out of fashion. And now he was here, and it was daylight, and his phone was ringing again. He made it across the room.

"Tay," he mouthed soundlessly at the sight of his sister's profile pic on-screen. He absolutely did not want to talk to her right now. He dismissed the call, gingerly pirouetting to take in the sight of the room—the curtain-muted daylight, the rough woven rugs, like stepping stones, between the door just to his left and the king-sized bed with its king-sized occupant, back turned, still fast asleep. Jorje picked up his clothes, cracked the door open a few inches, and crept through the gap.

The light in the hallway was blinding, and he automatically screwed up his eyes, wincing in pain. At one end was a vast arched window, the sun streaming through and replicating the arch in shadow form on the floor, fading where it collided with the white heat beaming from the skylight above. Light bounced off the plain white walls, starkly contrasting with the black wrought iron banisters that ran the length of the hall and swirled down around a spiral staircase. Jorje used the rail to steady himself, tugging on his Balmain biker jeans. The slim fit was a pain in the ass when sober, near impossible when hung-over (possibly still smashed), staggering with one leg in and one leg out. He almost toppled, but not quite, the slap of his bare feet against the wooden floors echoing loudly up into the rafters. He finally got the jeans on, zipped them, glancing along past the doorway from which he had just emerged, hoping to locate a bathroom. There were two other doors, both identical. Tentatively he opened the first, got lucky, dived in and unzipped his jeans again, the pleasure of that gush of piss utter bliss and loud enough to drown out the sound of someone else entering the room behind him.

"Good morning."

Jorje jumped and stopped peeing. A deep, gentle laugh like distant rolling thunder rumbled behind him.

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